A summary of some of the beer festivals coming up in late summer 2013.
The first Dublin Craft Beer Cup was held at the Alltech Gathering Craft Brewing and Distilling Conference at Convention Centre Dublin. The two day conference culminated with the announcement of the gold, silver and bronze medal winners from among a wide selection of beers from Europe, North America and the antipodes, judged by an international panel of experts. In taking the top prize, the Co. Antrim brewery beat such high profile producers as Stone, Thornbridge, Sierra Nevada and Three Floyds.
Medals were also awarded to Carlow Brewing for their Leann Folláin stout (gold), Irish Red (gold), Barrel-aged Leann Folláin (silver), Irish Stout (bronze) and Pale Ale (bronze). Newly arrived Kinsale Pale Ale won a bronze medal and Hilden also took a bronze for their Barney's Brew wheat beer.
Founded in 1981, Hilden is Ireland's oldest independent brewery. Twisted Hop, a 4.7% ABV beer made with Galaxy and Brewer's Gold hops, is one of the newest additions to their range.
For a full list of the winners in the Dublin Craft Beer Cup, click here.
It's heartening that so many of the winners of the 2013 Irish Restaurant Awards are familiar from the Beoir Directory and app as stockists of beer and cider from Ireland's small independent producers. Over the last ten years we have seen a major change in how the nation views and values food, with a consequent rise in the quality and range of what's on offer. Though the beer revolution is newer and faces tougher competition from bland mass-produced products, it's clear that the food sector is an important ally, bringing tasty local produce to the market, both on a plate and in a glass.
Congratulations to all the winners, but especially the five gastropub champions: The Brewer's House (Donaghmore), The Purty Kitchen (Dublin), Eat @ Massimo (Galway), The Derg Inn (Terryglass) and Harte's Bar (Kildare), all proving every day that beer and food belong together.
In fact, with awards for "Best Cocktail Experience" and "Best Wine Experience", isn't it high time there was an Irish Restaurant Award for "Best Beer or Cider Experience"?
Every year I travel to Kilkenny with a group of friends to attend the Cat Laughs comedy festival. It has always been a great festival; and add to that some fantastic restaurants and pubs and a good time is had by all.
However, there was always one thing lacking: craft beer. In previous years we have pretty much camped out in The Grapevine as it was the only place I was likely to find craft. Then last year two more venues appeared: Cleeres and The Pumphouse; Both serving a decent range of bottles.
This year the availability was a lot better. Not only have Carlow Brewing opened a craft pub (right beside Cleeres and The Pumphouse) but craft taps have started appearing. And two of the restaurants we visited also had craft on their wine list. Only one minor downside, another venue that had craft bottles for last years Savour festival no longer carried them, so we didn't spend much time there.
So where do you go if you are in Kilkenny and looking for a locally brewed craft beer or cider: